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Violet Vines

Violet Vines

            Once upon a time there was a house, a leaf and a gambler.  The house had the unfortunate role of being the gambler’s home, a fate which the house really never wanted in its life.  The house, who was old enough to have a name was almost entirely ignored by the gambler.  While this wouldn’t bother most houses, this house was proud and wanted the gambler, whose name was John, to acknowledge that this old fancy house where John was lucky enough to reside in was actually named Violet Vines.  Not even the original owners of this house could tell you why their house had such an odd name, but whatever the cause the old Victorian, was a faded purple and most often the house itself felt this had something to do with its name. 

            Now the house did not mind its odd name, instead it was more proud of the name because of its uniqueness.  This was also one of the many reasons which caused the house to be bothered by the gambling man, with the boring name of John to have taken up residence inside her walls.  Violet wanted the person who resided in her to be as interesting as the name which she was given, and in her whole existence there had only been one resident with that uniqueness.

            The resident had been there before gambling John showed up to dampen Violet’s spirits.  It had actually been uninvited, but this resident was different it wasn’t human or animal, but instead of all the possibilities for a resident this one was a leaf.  It was a large leaf, with brilliant color, which made Violet think it held some magical properties. 

            The leaf had hitched a ride on the backpack of a child who once lived inside Violet’s walls, and when the child discovered the leaf he was also convinced of its invisible magical properties.  Violet had never seen a leaf of its kind and was itching from the moment of its arrival to talk to and get to know the leaf.

            Large and shimmery the leaf was placed on a shelf in the boy’s room, and despite his initial interest the leaf was soon forgotten, but not by Violet.  The good thing about a house wanting to have a conversation with a leaf is that since most houses have a wooden structure, and Violet was no different, they share a common language.  So every day when the human residents of Violet Vines left for their lives outside the house, Violet began to speak with the leaf.

            At first the leaf was shy.  Violet was surprised by this since it had entered her walls with such boldness that she thought it would have been willing to speak to anyone he could.  Though after a few days of coaxing it out Violet learned the leaf’s name, Mr. Cory Young.  The fact that the leaf had both a first and last name impressed the house and made her even more respectful of her new resident.

            Over time their friendship grew and Violet and Mr. Young had become the closest of friends.  And although Mr. Young had started to wither a bit with age Violet had no thought in the mind that he would ever leave.  Until the boy left for college.

            When the boy left to further his education he rediscovered his fascinating leaf and decided to take it with him.  He pressed it in a book, packed it away and left the house.  Violet was then left alone with nobody to talk to within her walls and only a few rose bushes and vines on her walls to speak with.  With time Violet became bitter and proud, but never forgot her friend, and wished with each passing day for him to return home.

            Many years later the boy returned to Violet Vines.  His parents had passed on and left him the old house.  He had wasted his education and lost most of his money in the gambling halls playing poker.  But most importantly he had forgotten to bring Mr. Young home with him when he returned.  This was the main reason why Violet hated John so much.  As a boy he would write on her walls and as a man he never cleaned her halls, but most of all he had lost her best friend in the world.

            One day however, John decided to go through the boxes he had sent home after his school years.  There in one of the boxes was the book in which Mr. Young had been pressed and preserved.  He was happy at having found what he regarded as his good luck charm and placed the leaf in a case to be displayed in the house. 

            Violet noticed the change immediately.  Her friend had returned and John seemed to start to care about things again.  He quit gambling, found a job, and cleaned Violet Vines for the first time in years.  He made repairs and gave her fresh paint.  This would been enough to cheer up Violet, but now she had her old friend back.

            They spent all day talking while John was out of the house.  And as the days turned to years John married and had children.  But Mr. Young had started to fade away.  They all knew the leaf would be with them for a very short amount of time after this, and John worried that his luck would again change if he lost his precious leaf.  Violet had the same worry in her mind.

            Then as Johns oldest son came home from school one day, the house, the gambler, and the leaf all noticed something unexpected.  There on the boys backpack was a younger version of Mr. Young.  John immediately took the new precious leaf and placed it with its uncle.  There Mr. Young taught the new leaf all his secrets, Violet taught him all her history, and with this knowledge the leaf bestowed luck on the entire household.


The Crying Mirror

So when I was five we moved in with my mother’s parents.  I had already proven myself to be a difficult child at this point, but with my father in search of a job after leaving the navy the family decided it was best to move in with extended family while I finished kindergarten. 

            Now I mentioned I was a difficult child.  I suppose that this would be putting things rather lightly.  I was a horror.  I had temper tantrums that would scare a sane person out of ever thinking of having children of their own.  What made these tantrums particularly horrible when we lived with my grandparents was the mirror in my bedroom.

            In my room I had one of those closets with the sliding doors, and one of these doors was a full length mirror.  When I would be sent to my room, crying and in the full throws of a tantrum, I would sit on my bed and watch myself and the way I looked during these episodes.  I’m not sure what my fascination was with seeing my eyes red and puffy, or my face contorted with screaming and crying.  I do know however, that the mirror created for me a way to punish my family more by extending the tantrums well past the point where I should have calmed down.

            I think at times I was actually calm as I screamed and cried, watching myself in the mirror.  I would sit close to it on the floor, so I could see every detail in my face as I cried and screamed.  Other times I sat far against the opposite wall on my bed and looked to see what my tiny face looked like at a distance.  I tried different angles, and I would even at times sit where I could only see one half of my face while I continued my tantrum.

            Eventually, they figured out that the mirror was what continued these tantrums for longer than a few minutes, extending them well into time periods unhealthy to be carrying on with so much passion.  Then the mirror was put behind the other closet door.  Though, now I must admit that once they had left the room I would slide out the door just enough to see my face and continue my crying for just a little longer than I should have.  Then I would quietly replace the door and calm myself down.

            I’m not sure why I was so fascinated with how I looked as I cried.  I was not interested in how I looked not crying.  I did not practice making faces into that mirror which were happy, or scary.  For me that mirror held one purpose, and it was to cry into.  I never cared to check my outfits as other girls might have, instead I cried.  What’s more is that I never cried into another mirror, just that one closet door mirror at my grandparent’s house.  It was my crying mirror, and once we moved, I suppose I didn’t need one anymore.

How the Crazy Hurts Everyone

It is difficult enough to know that every day of your life you have to live with an illness which people don’t understand.  There isn’t exactly a support group for those with mental illness, and everyone has a different experience with it.  What is most difficult when living this way is not just that you hurt personally and emotionally, but that you unintentionally hurt everyone around you.  People are pushed out of your life because you snap at a child when you are trying not to have an anxiety attack.  Worse still is when you lash out at you family from impulse aggression which is caused from feeling trapped inside your own skin.  You want to hurt yourself because you hurt everyone around you.  Then at some point, everyone seemingly gives up hope that you will ever get any better.  At this point, you get even worse.  Anxiety so bad you can’t get out of bed, or leave you house to do something as simple as getting a drink, or going to buy a pack of cigarettes.  Putting air in the tires on your car becomes a terrifying event.  The thought of seeing your family causes so much tension before you get there that everyone is on edge and they are all just waiting for you to snap again.  Then if you manage to try to control yourself, and someone else yells at you or insults you you are stuck with the dilemma of responding or walking away, both reactions are taken as insulting to the person you are trying to not fight with.

Living this way is a constant battle.  One which a person cannot hope to face alone.  One which family and friends need to learn how to understand, so that they can help you take the steps forward in your life which you long to take.  It is hard enough when you are terrified of everything to get out of bed in the morning.  However, knowing that you have hurt almost every person in your life because of your disease makes it that much harder.  There is no cure, but with support we can overcome and live normal lives.

So to those whom I have hurt, my best friend, mother, sisters, brother, grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-mother, father, and my son I am sorry.  I try everyday to become a better version of myself, but I am still lost inside this disease.  I don’t know which direction will take me out of it, and that is why I have felt the need to write about it.  I hope as you and others read these essays and posts, that you might gain some understanding of what it is like to live in my skin, to walk my path, and how difficult it is to know what I have done and that nothing I say can repair what i myself have broken.

To the readers who don’t know me in person:  I hope that you can gain insight into your own lives through my struggles.  I hope that if you are reading this because you have a family member or a friend with a mental illness that you will gain insight into them.

The key is support.  Crazy or sane we all need support.  We all need our friends and family to be there to listen when we are in pain.  It is more difficult to do this when someone is always in pain, I know, but please remember that even if you are not seeing the person you love when they have an anxiety attack, a manic episode, or a bout of depression, that person is still in there.  They are trying to figure out how to come back, and they just need a strong hand to hold until they can make it through.

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